Chief financial officer and executive vice president, Verizon Corporation
Born: 1949, in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles.
Education: Rosemont College, BA; Fairleigh Dickinson University, MBA.
Family: Married Edmund (chief information officer, Colgate-Palmolive); children: two.
Career: AT&T treasury division, 1983–1986, executive; Bell Atlantic–Pennsylvania, 1986–1992, various positions; Bell Atlantic–New Jersey, 1992–1993, assistant vice president and comptroller; Bell Atlantic–New Jersey, 1993–1995, chief financial officer; Bell Atlantic–New Jersey, 1995–1997, vice president, corporate finance, and controller; Telecom Network, 1997–2002, vice president and chief financial officer; Verizon, 2002–, executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Awards: Named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business, Fortune , 2002, 2003.
Address: Verizon Corporation, 1095 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10036; http://www.verizon.com.
■ In the early 2000s the chief financial officer Doreen Toben guided Verizon Corporation through a challenging and volatile era in the telecom market. She was credited with leading Verizon's successful efforts to reduce its heavy debt, increase the company's cash flow, and divest itself of nonstrategic assets. Toben met these goals without making any additional company acquisitions or incurring any additional debt.
Doreen Toben was born on the island of Curaçao and raised in Harding Township, New Jersey. She graduated from Rosemont College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in political science and went on to earn an MBA in finance and marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Joining AT&T's treasury department in the early 1980s, Toben quickly rose through the ranks. Her subsequent 1986 move to Bell Atlantic–Pennsylvania allowed her to hone her leadership skills in a variety of management positions, seeing firsthand the workings of the equipment engineering, operations, small business management, and consumer market departments. This breadth of experience served Toben well as her career as an executive progressed. As Toben told Jane Black of BusinessWeek (May 29, 2003), "The best advice I ever got was to move around and do different jobs."
In 1992 Toben moved to Bell Atlantic–New Jersey, where she assumed the position of assistant vice president and comptroller. Her strong leadership and management skills led to her appointment as chief financial officer very soon after her move there. Then just another year later she was named vice president of corporate finance. By 1995 Toben had become vice president of finance and controller of Bell Atlantic.
In the meantime, Doreen Toben had married Edmund Toben and had two children. Edmund Toben had his own demanding job as chief information officer of Colgate-Palmolive. Both husband and wife commuted to their respective companies' New York City headquarters, typically a one-hour trip each way from their home in Princeton, New Jersey. Toben described to Jane Black the limits that high-powered careers and family obligations placed on her time: "Lots of people talk about having cocktails with the Bradys. My whole life is work. If I'm not at work, I'm with my kids…. [Success] doesn't come easy."
In 1997 Bell Atlantic merged with NYNEX, and Toben's position in the newly combined company became senior vice president and chief financial officer of the telecom network. Just three years later, in the middle of 2000, Bell Atlantic and GTE agreed to merge, creating what became Verizon Corporation. Toben's career continued to rise with this merger, and she was named Verizon's chief financial officer in 2002.
In her first year at the newly formed Verizon, Toben successfully decreased the company's staggering $530 billion in borrowings by $12 billion. Many analysts noted this to be an unprecedented drop in such a short period of time, and it caused the industry to take notice of her strategic planning decisions. Fortune placed Toben number 25 on its list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business 2002.
In the mid-2000s Verizon continued to face considerable financial challenges: to expand its subscriber base, to make high-speed Internet access profitable, and to reduce the company's debt. Observers expressed confidence that Toben, with her strategic planning acumen and long tenure in telecommunications, was well suited to help her company meet these tasks. As Tim Horan, a telecom analyst with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, told BusinessWeek (May 29, 2003), "Doreen knows the numbers better than anyone in the telecom industry."
Black, Jane, "Minding Verizon's Bottom Line," BusinessWeek , May 29, 2003.
Morris, Betsy, "Trophy Husbands," Fortune , September 27, 2002.
—Susan French Ludwig